Captain's Coming

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Warm up for a day on the water and learn some sailing terminology in this energising game.

Traditional game involving YP following simple commands quickly without being last or faltering. Also commonly known as Port and Starboard.

Source = traditional and


Space to run around in


1. One member of the group is the captain, who will call out the commands. Everyone else should stand in the centre of the space, ready to respond to the commands with the appropriate action.

2. Everyone should practice the captain’s commands:
Bow: run to the front of the playing space
Stern: run to the back of the playing space
Port: run to the left side of the playing space
Starboard: run to the right side of the playing space
Man the lifeboats / Get in the boats: sit down on the ground
Captain’s coming: stand completely still (at alert) and salute until the leader says dismissed
Climb the rigging: pretend to climb a ladder
Man overboard: hold on to a partner.
Scrub the decks: Get down on their knees and pretend to scrub the floor
Bombs Away - Crouch down with your hands over your head
Submarine - Lie on your back with one leg in the air
Walk the Plank - Walk along a thin line
Captains Lady/Wife - All shout Ooo La La!

3. Once everyone knows the commands, play the game until everyone is warmed up with heart rates raised.

4. For anyone working towards Stage 3 of their Sailing Staged Activity Badge, check out some more sailing terms below that you could add into the game.

Take it to the next level
If using game as part of navigation/orienteering activity, use points of compass instead of fore, aft etc.
Add in some of these extra terms if you’re working towards a higher stage of your Sailing Activity Badge. Why not see if anyone in the group can come up with some fun actions to use too.

Aft: anything towards the back of the boat
Forward: anything towards the front of the boat
Helm: where you steer the boat, there’s usually a wheel or tiller to control the boats rudder
Keel: a long heavy fin on the bottom of the boat that sticks down into the water
Mainsail: the big triangular sail just aft of the boats mast, it’s the largest and most important sail
Jib: another common sail on a boat, found forward of the mast
Leeward: the side of the boat furthest from the wind
Windward: the side of the boat closest to the wind
Tack: to change direction by turning the bow of the boat through the wind
Jibe: another way to change direction, by turning the stern of the boat through the wind
Point of sail: the boat’s direction relative to the wind
Port tack: when the wind is blowing from the port side of the boat
Starboard tack: when the wind is blowing from the starboard side of the boat

Extra moves for sailing/paddling warm up:-
Man Over Board - Stand and point
Ready about & Lee Ho - Swap sides of room
Hike out - 2 people stand face to face, hold hands and lean back holding on
Kayak/Canoe - kneel and paddle with an oar

Adaptions for Virtual Scouting:-
Instead of running to a side of the room, YP just point up, down, left & right.

This activity was about being active and getting ready to go out on the water. Why do you think it’s important to warm up your muscles before doing a physical activity? Can you think of any other good ways to warm up before a session of sailing? Did you learn any new sailing terms during the game that could be useful when you’re out on the water?

Change the level of challenge
Introduce the commands at a pace suitable for the group. If the names of the boat (bow, stern, port and starboard) are new to the group, label the playing space with them. Challenge the group to come up with their own commands.


  • fitness
  • #1LHB
  • game

Badge Links

  • Navigator - 4 compass points
  • Paddle Sports - Warm up
  • Sailing - Terminology
  • Sailing - Warm up